Friday Futurecast — July 17

Health and safety update for university community members

Welcome to this week’s Friday Futurecast, providing the latest updates on our plans for fall, how we are preparing, and what to expect.

These updates are archived on the UMaine Return to Campus website. The University of Maine at Machias also has a Return to Campus website.

Transparent and continuing communication

  • Numerous virtual town halls and information sessions continue for students. President Ferrini-Mundy and Chancellor Dan Malloy will lead a virtual information session for all UMaine and UMM students at 2 p.m., July 21. Recordings of many of the virtual Q&A sessions for students are on the Undergraduate Admissions website.

  • The Graduate School is working with the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), the RiSE Center, Student Life and other campus offices to prepare a virtual orientation program for new graduate teaching assistants and new graduate students. The site will allow graduate students to acquaint themselves with academic, student life and teaching resources well before arriving on campus. More information is on the Graduate School website.

  • Members of the Center for Student Involvement and the Dean of Students Office are meeting with all fraternity and sorority leadership to discuss all appropriate federal, state and university guidance that will be required in order for these organizations to operate safely during the fall semester. Included in these discussions will be details regarding COVID-19 testing; those living in fraternity houses will be included as part of the residential cohort.

  • On July 14, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded its July 6 guidance and reverted back to the March 9 guidance. This means that international students remaining in the U.S. can take online or remote courses to maintain full-time enrollment for the fall semester. International students not able to join UMaine this fall in person can take classes from their home country. UMaine and UMS leadership will continue advocating with federal agencies and the Congressional Delegation to allow new international students to enter the U.S. and join us in person this fall semester.

  • This past week, 120 new and current students participated in three virtual sessions offered by the Office of International Programs on July 15–16 to answer immigration, arrival, housing and dining questions. OIP will continue offering virtual sessions to support students as they prepare for fall courses from campus or from home.

In-person, on-campus experiences and other learning modes

  • This fall, students on and off campus can expect an engaged experience beyond their coursework with a variety of programs and events every week, led by the Division of Student Life. That includes Late Night at the “U,” offered online to engage students studying off campus. Whether UMaine students are taking classes on campus or from afar this fall, the Campus Activities team says the goal is to provide engagement experiences that are as similar as possible for all participants. Students should follow @um.getinvolved on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date on programming options.

  • At UMM, Student Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (SAIL) is offering virtual programming, including virtual museum tours and interactive video game streaming, to keep students engaged at a distance. Visit the SAIL Facebook page for more information.

  • As of July 15, the COVID-19 Research Continuity Task Force has approved 373 requests to restart essential research and scholarly activity at UMaine or UMM, including facilities statewide. Effective June 1, we are in Phase Two of the Plan for Phased Continuity of the Research Enterprise when essential research and scholarly activity (that require working on campus or in the field) have been expanded. The latest research guidance is online.

Flexibility, responsiveness, empathy, and science

  • Enrollment Management’s student recruitment efforts for the fall will include innovations to reenvision high school visits and campus tours. Team Maine members will offer more one-on-one mentoring with prospective students and a new self-guided walking tour of campus will be developed. The initiatives are in addition to the multiple virtual tours and information sessions offered to incoming students in recent months.

  • This week the University of Maine Career Center and UMaine Graduate School will host their third live Virtual Career Exploration and Graduate School Workshop. The sessions, archived on the UMaine Graduate School YouTube channel, provide resources for career exploration, networking, job search and graduate school options. Graduate School admissions counselors also are available by appointment.

High-quality learning in the pandemic context

  • CITL offers workshops and information sessions on pedagogical and instructional technology topics that include online student engagement and group work, using video in teaching, and Brightspace. CITL’s Instructional Design staff members work closely with faculty to plan and develop their courses and course content to meet the learning needs of students in every modality.

  • Brightspace is our learning platform for this fall. The platform has many impressive features, which include the ability to develop fora and rubrics to grade comments with grades automatically posted in the grade book. Brightspace is mobile friendly and will take a bit of investment of time to learn all the features that will enrich our classes for this fall. I hope that more faculty will access the courses from CITL or the Brightspace platform.

  • Honors 180: A Cultural Odyssey is an introduction to local arts and culture that carried on virtually last semester thanks to the collaborative support of community partners like the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the Penobscot Theatre, the Collins Center for the Arts, the University of Maine School of Performing Arts and more. This fall, the course will again coordinate with community partners to ensure that UMaine students continue to engage in creative ways with the rich cultural offerings in our area.

Continuing our missions for Maine

  • In light of the fair cancellations this summer, Maine 4-H staff are organizing the first virtual fair in the state. Participation in the Maine State Virtual Fair is an opportunity for the state’s 2,000 4-H club and independent 4-H members to be recognized for their efforts on projects they completed and skills they gained in the past year. University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine State Virtual Fair Exhibit Hall is online through Aug. 1.

  • The Division of Music launched Maine Summer Youth Music (MSYM) Online, featuring a small library of instructional videos for music students in grades 5 to 12. The site offers a virtual alternative to the Maine Summer Youth Music Camp, normally held on campus each year for up to 300 young musicians. A news brief is online.

Partnering to address health

  • Three graduate assistants will work with Student Life and the UMaine public health team members to help support students on and off campus who are quarantined and/or isolated due to COVID-19-related circumstances. The graduate assistants will focus on regular check-ins to provide resource support and guidance, coordinate contact tracing, staff the hotline to address coronavirus-related questions and concerns, and engage with these students.

  • New entrance signs at campus roadway entrances remind members of the UMaine community and visitors that face coverings are required on campus, indoors and out.

  • Campuswide, there will be more than 60 locations where members of the UMaine community can pick up a disposable face covering. Those locations include Fogler Library, Memorial Union, and many athletic, academic and administrative buildings.

  • UMM is preparing to meet increased housing demand as the result of a new private dorm room policy for residential students. Three UMaine Facilities Management staff members spent the past week on the Machias campus, where they helped with painting and other improvements in residence hall common areas and rooms.